LEICESTER, United Kingdom – Scotland’s government has created a fund to help places of worship set up security measures to tackle hate crime.

The £500,000 (over $700,0000) Hate Crime Security Fund fund can be accessed by faith communities for CCTV, security doors, alarms, fencing, video intercoms and improved lighting.

“The Hate Crime Security Fund will help ensure faith communities in Scotland most vulnerable to hate crime are supported to worship in safety,” said Shona Robinson, Scotland’s Social Justice Secretary.

“Scotland is an inclusive and tolerant nation, but our society is not immune from the threat of prejudice and hate. Places of worship should be places of peace and sanctuary and our faith communities should feel safe and secure when they visit them,” she said.

Catholics are victims of 42 percent of religiously motivated hate crime in Scotland, the most of any religious group. Muslims were the second-most affected, with 26 percent. Protestants were victims in 12 percent of reported cases.

“Faith leaders and their congregations should be able to attend worship without fear of crime or persecution,” said Gary Ritchie, the Assistant Chief Constable for Police Scotland.

“Targeting people, places or communities because of their religious affiliation is unacceptable and Police Scotland works alongside our religious communities to safeguard against crime of any nature, and in particular hate crime,” he said.

“Officers regularly liaise with community and faith leaders and monitor issues and tensions across Scotland. We thoroughly investigate every hate crime incident. We are also aware hate crime is significantly under-reported, and we always encourage anyone who witnesses an incident, be they victim or bystander, to make us aware and allow us to determine whether an offence has been committed,” Ritchie added.

Individual grants of up to £20,000 will be available for a maximum of three security measures to mitigate the risk from hate crime.

“Although the Fund is not especially large, the principal of offering funding to protect places of worship is welcomed,” a spokesperson for the Catholic Church in Scotland told Crux.

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